Where Does Our Water Come From?
Our water starts as rainfall and snowmelt in the mountainous areas called watersheds, in the northern area of the region. Metro Vancouver manages three watersheds - Capilano, Seymour, and Coquitlam – which together provide 2.6 million residents with a clean, reliable, and affordable supply of drinking water.
The rain and melting snow flow downhill through the watersheds’ creeks and streams into large collection lakes called reservoirs. The Capilano, Seymour, and Coquitlam reservoirs store this water year-round for drinking water supply.
Metro Vancouver’s reservoirs are also bolstered by water from three alpine lakes: Burwell Lake, Palisade Lake, and Loch Lomond. These feeder lakes are typically used in mid-summer to supplement the supply of water available in the Capilano and Seymour reservoirs. The water from these deep, cold lakes is particularly high quality and contributes to an increase in downstream aquatic habitat, particularly during periods of drought.
The watersheds are closed to the public for protection from pollution, erosion, fire, and other hazards, with the exception of registered tours.
Capilano Watershed & Reservoir
North Vancouver's Capilano Watershed supplies a third of the region's drinking water. The Capilano Reservoir is contained by the Cleveland Dam (constructed 1954), also operated by Metro Vancouver. This reservoir sits in the steepest of the three watersheds that supply our drinking water.
Visitors can see the reservoir from Cleveland Dam at the north end of Capilano River Regional Park. You can also visit the Capilano River Hatchery, operated below Cleveland Dam since 1971.
Seymour Watershed & Reservoir
Located in the North Shore Mountains, the Seymour Watershed supplies a third of the region's drinking water. Although the reservoir is closed to public access, the forests south of the reservoir, called the
Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (LSCR) are open to the public, offering many outdoor experiences, and the LSCR trails connect to many other popular trails on the North Shore.
The Seymour Capilano Filtration Plant, which treats water from both Seymour and Capilano, is visible from the LSCR’s main parking lot.
Coquitlam Watershed & Reservoir
The Coquitlam Reservoir supplies a third of the region's drinking water. This supply proportion can increase to approximately half of the region's supply during the summer peak demand season.
The watershed sits just north of the city of Coquitlam, and has been a municipal drinking water source since the late 1890’s (at that time, for the City of New Westminster). BC Hydro owns and operates the Coquitlam Dam and has an agreement with the Province for electricity. Metro Vancouver has an agreement with BC Hydro for drinking water.